It’s been a while since I’ve wittered on about my running but with my planning to turn up & run in my first Joe Brown Tuesday evening run tonight it would seem to be a suitable time to make amends, so here goes.
With a descent Manchester Marathon well behind me the following week saw me get out for a couple of ten milers feeling strong & more importantly more upbeat about my recent foot pains. During a mini break in Keswick to catch up with Doug Scott & gear shopping I got out two evenings back to back to run the 11 mile circuit of Derwent Water, it felt like I was in heaven but where there’s a heaven there’s a hell & that hit me the next day (Wednesday). As planned I drove down to Yorkshire to meet up with Janet who was going to give me a recce of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks race route. As ever Man & Woman were on the same wavelength with me turning up to walk & Janet turning up to run ‘I’ll run with you Paul but will leave you to bag the first couple of peaks whilst I wait for you’. At this news I should have said ‘Can you wait 10 minutes to allow me to de-camp essentials from my walking bag to my running bag’, being me I of course didn’t & proceeded for the next 6 Hours 20 Minutes weighed down by 6/7Kg of useless kit on the first day of that mini heatwave. That gave me a great start to tapering for the Goldrush race 45 miles in under 48 hours, ‘way to go Paul, you cretin!’ Thursday & Friday were spent trying to recover whilst loading a skip & entertaining friends Friday evening with Red wine. Saturday dawned, roasting hot, Goldrush (9 miles) well what could possibly go wrong with such (dare I say it) SPJ type pre-race planning?
The Goldrush, un-like me, was as well organised as ever by Matt Ward & his team even announcing an extra drinks station to help us out in the heat. Sadly my race was already cooked (same can’t be said for my pre-race eggs which an Angel forgot to bring home from the cafe the night before) & I felt my stupidity from the off. It was a tough call to keep going but at least I can say that I did & felt proud that despite the fatigue my stamina & feet saw me through to the finish. Time for once wasn’t really important but was 3 minutes down of my dead heats from 2016 & 17. However I placed 23rd out of 187 & 3rd O.50 out of 20 so I feel every justification in feeling good, it’s about the mind & this was another step forward.
Of course the big test was to come a week later, a week where I learnt some lessons, no runs & only one more skip filled, I had at long last tapered!
Last Friday evening I arrived at Janet’s feeling excited & almost fresh, then made the mistake of saying ‘yes I’d love a coffee, 5 times’. Usually I drink de-caf, these of course had Caffeine & were followed by less than 2 hours sleep, Paul, Paul, Paul……….
Janet’s daughter, Katy, arrived pre-race at 7:00 am, there was no need to wake me as I’d been a Jumping Jack Flash all bloody night as excitement morphed into nerves, would these nerves have energy?
In truth it was a magical day that followed, very ably supported by Janet & Kate, who cheered me on out on the route & topped me up with Electrolite. It was arguably the most competitive & best field of runners I’ve ever been up against, the cut off times at check points 3 & 5 were themselves daunting ‘Paul, you’ve got to at least reach them in time to not be stopped from carrying on by the organiser’s to re-pay your supporters’ efforts.’
It was hard, 23.5 miles & I felt all of them but gradually my pace more or less held as some others began to fail, yes many still overtook me but a net gain of 71 places in the second half of the race did add some icing to soothe the pain & I finished a credible 449th out of 767, in contrast to the Goldrush or even more so the Manchester Road Marathon, when the going gets tough the Fell Runners are the stuff! That is not to belittle all the other runners I ran against in April, we ran at some point & probably many we can all feel lucky & smile at ourselves.
My race ‘highlights’ were many but of particular note:-
- Coming over a brow at the start of the brutal Whernside climb to see two runners literally stuck in a bog & saying to those on my tail ‘God this looks like fun’ before 3 guys went to their aid & we gained 5 places, guilt, surprisingly none!
- A river crossing where 6 or 7 runners tried to keep their wet feet dry (why?) I just walked past them through it’s safer but wetter bed.
- That Whernside climb, small stats compared to Snowdonia’s monsters but believe me it was brutal & seemingly never ending.
- The run in from Ingleborough to the finish, false dawn after false dawn but for once I picked up some places on a descent.
- Despite all my experience I still decided to lie down at the finish & duly cramped when I tried to get back up, these had been narrowly held back for almost 3 hours ever since I skirted that bog.
Janet finished the day off by cooking an excellent meal as we were joined by Kate’s friend Nat, a relaxed end to a great weekend so thank you Janet & Kate for being so accommodating & excited about the race.
There is yet more to be positive about, this Sunday sees me trying to defend my O.50’s win in last years Two Lakes Half Marathon, my supporters this week will be my Father & niece, Beth. But more importantly my feet, is it the new insoles?, is it the physio?, or is it Dorina’s constant attention to them each evening with mud pack, massage & ointment (yes she does wash her hands before she bakes the cafe cakes)? I have a feeling it’s an Angel that has tipped the scales in my life yet again, lucky, lucky man, I am running without pain again!
It’s started raining since I began this waffle, but having once lived under Moel y Guest the time has come, Mike Blake & the Joe Brown series here I come, many Fell runners will whip me but that just isn’t the point, is it.
PS. Well done to Matt Fortes for a great run in the Y3p’s & thank you to Becki Law who twice was still in place long after Matt had flown by to cheer me & the other Eryri Harriers on.